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Awakening: A Residential Capacity Building Workshop for Adolescent Girls to combat Human Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse in Ukhrul, Manipur

Workshop underway with a discussion titled, ' Who Am I?'

 

FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) with support from ECPAT Luxembourg initiated Mukti as an initiative against child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation in Ukhrul and Imphal in 2015. Through this project FXBIS seeks to empower adolescents with knowledge on the realities and the different modes of human trafficking. It also seeks to capacitate them to combat trafficking by connecting them to relevant government authorities. In pursuance of that goal, a two day Residential Capacity Building Workshop for Adolescent Girls to combat Human Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse was organized in Ukhrul on 15-16th December, 2016.

 

A lush mountainous area, Ukhrul's population belongs predominantly to the Naga tribe. Ukhrul, one of the districts of Manipur is located in a harsh mountainous zone with extreme temperatures particularly in winter. The terrain makes the development and maintenance of infrastructure difficult resulting in poor economic and education opportunities, high unemployment and exploitation.  Students from the middle class or disadvantaged sections are forced to migrate outside and look for jobs in beauty parlours, spas, restaurant and hotels instead. However, they often face exploitation in these jobs. Ukhrul is experiencing a high HIV/AIDS prevalence due to illicit trafficking from its' border with Myanmar and has been identified as a hotspot for human trafficking. Prolonged and violent armed conflict has left behind a large number of widows and orphans who are particularly vulnerable to the traps of the trafficking networks. Victims are trafficked to other destination states within India like Goa, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Bangalore, Kolkata and Delhi. The need to empower the youth and especially young girls against trafficking is acutely felt within the district.

 

The workshop was organized as the first of a series of training programmes for young girls in the district. Through this programme, FXBIS seeks to develop a cadre of peer leaders capable of reaching out to other vulnerable groups within their respective communities. 34 adolescent girls aged between 13 -19 were selected from different parts of the district based on their demonstrated leadership abilities participated in the workshop. Ms. Grace Jajo, a native of the district and an experienced trainer with expansive experience of working gender issues led the workshop. Ms Jajo's, ability to speak Tangkhul, the local language helped her communicate with the participants adeptly. A residential format was adopted for the workshop wherein the participants stayed overnight and had the opportunity to interact with each other, discuss and refine their learnings from each day. Bringing them out of the comfort of their familiar surroundings helped them to express their concerns without fear the of judgment.

 


Craft Activity

 

 

The workshop was geared with two aims and the syllabi was developed accordingly. The workshop focused on developing their skills for public speaking and expressing their ideas in a coherent manner. Transference of correct information is key building the strength of the younger generation in terms of leadership for  enduring social change. The participants were introduced to topics like difference between gender and sex, physiological and emotional changes in adolescents, how to adapt to changes during adolescence, the modus operandi of human trafficking , sexual abuse and especially online sexual abuse and the socio- legal redressal mechanisms  available to them. Art and Craft activities, video and audio recording, video clips, case studies and written materials were used for the dissemination of information. However keeping in mind the lack of uniformity in prior exposure of the topics among the participants the sessions were kept open ended and amenable to adjustments. The sessions were also interspersed with games and activities that helped not only in keeping the participants motivated but also ensured better retention of lessons.

 

 

Another significant goal of the workshop was to familiarize the participants with district law enforcement officials. Children from the remote backgrounds in Ukhrul are an especially easy target for traffickers. As parents/guardians are illiterate and ignorant about the realities of trafficking, they are doubly vulnerable. Often many cases of trafficked children and women are unreported. To overcome this glass ceiling, the participants were given the chance to have a candid discussion on their concerns in an interactive session with the Mr. M.J. Pradip Chandren, District Commissioner and Mr. Hemant Pandey, Superintendent of Police, the most high ranking officials in the district. During the interactive session the participants posed questions to the officials on varied subjects that included request for information on official awareness programmes , information on relevant laws, how and whom to approach in case of an emergency. They also shared the various things they had learned during the workshop and how they are going to utilize the  newly acquired information. The district officials not only provided candid answers but also related personal experiences to highlight that sexual abuse is widespread social nuisance and in any such circumstance, cases should be reported without fear. They shared their contact details with the FXBIS team and the participants to enhance accessibility and immediacy of action on behalf of the authorities.  The interaction generated a lot of confidence among the adolescent girls to reach out to officials for any correspondence related to Child Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking. At the end of the workshop the participants were jubilant and energized to go back to their friends and share their knowledge on these issues. 

 

Interactive session with District Law Enforcement Officials

 

Glimpses from the workshop : https://www.flickr.com/photos/88471363N07/albums/72157663915443055

 

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